Thursday, February 23, 2017

What is the What--Eggers

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What is the What
by Dave Eggers
Vintage Canada, 2006, 535pp.

*** Incredible read. It's been a long time since I read a book so quickly! --LS
The Dinka of southern Sudan are secure in their confidence that they have been blessed by God in choosing to accept His gift of cattle and fertile land and in leaving the unknown 'what' for their Arab neighbors. That is, until the upheaval of civil war commences in which their way of life and their very lives are at stake...

This is the masterful re-telling of the story of 'the Lost Boys', those hundreds and thousands of young boys orphaned and/or displaced by the Second Sudanese war (1983-2005), as told through the eyes of one, Valentino Achak Deng.

Have they unwittingly been actually cursed by God in eschewing the unknown 'What'?
What is the What anyway?  Is it the superior force of the central Sudanese government in Khartoum? Is it the AK-47?  Is it the opportunity to emigrate to the United States

Dave Eggers weaves a fascinating, suspenseful, tender story shot with rays of humor as he unfolds the destiny of the Lost Boys as they escape death en route to the refugee camps where they will grow up into men with the chance to choose their own unknown, to keep on walking in search of grace and a future.  This is an absolutely compelling story that informs and appalls as it unfolds leaving the reader with an insider's grasp of the conflicts in southern Sudan prior to their independence as a nation.

"We're men.  Now we can stand and decide.  This is our first chance to choose our own unknown.  I'm so proud of everything we've done, my brothers, and if we're fortunate enough to fly and land again in a new place, we must continue.  As impossible as it sounds, we must keep walking.  And yes, there has been suffering, but now there will be grace.  There has been pain but now there will be serenity.  No one has been tried as we have been tried, and now this is our reward, whether it be heaven or something less than that." (p.531-2)


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